These API's are critical to us...without them, we're hurting. - Terry Drozdowski, Director of Engineering, Exceda.
At Akamai, we believe the future of the Internet lies in the hands of the developers and architects who tackle hard problems every day. With our Open Platform Initiative, we simplified access to the Akamai Intelligent Platform for better and easier integration with home-grown and third party technologies and applications. The initiative exposes the power and breadth of Akamai - over 200,000 servers at the farthest reaches at the Edge of the Internet, petabytes of distributed storage, and terabytes of global bandwidth. By providing this technology, our customers and partners can design the next killer application to deliver innovative web experiences while removing all the inherent impediments of building applications on the raw Internet.
Now, I could go on all day talking about how our initiative enables self-service, automation, and innovation, but what you want to hear (and what we want to share) is how Akamai customers use Akamai API's to streamline their processes, save money, and increase revenue. Two of my favorite examples - Hubspot and Exceda - really drive the organizational and bottom line impact home, so let's break them down.
I'm sure you've heard of Hubspot, a SaaS inbound marketing company that offers an integrated website, blog, landing pages, e-mail, analytics, and more. With more than 15,000 customers across the globe, naturally they rely on Akamai's Intelligent Platform to get their bits out.
When Google called for HTTPS everywhere in 2014, and announced ranking rewards for secure sites, HubSpot saw the importance of self-service provisioning for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). The problem is that SSL is, in the words of HubSpot Founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah "kind of hard and tricky to implement." Using Akamai API's, HubSpot was able to add automatic provisioning of SSL to their configuration, where customers could turn it on in two clicks.
The process is fairly technically complex, so rather than go through it step by step, I'll share how HubSpot used Akamai API's at each stage of implementation. For more detail on the implementation, jump to 5:40 at the video below. There were three key OPEN API's used with Hubspot's API:
Secure Provisioning Service (SPS) API: Mechanism to conveniently provision certificates and secure edge hostnames
Property Manager API (PAPI): Manages how Akamai Edge servers process requests, responses, and objects served over the Akamai platform
DNS - Zone Record Management API: Integrates with existing DNS infrastructure to provide a highly secure, performing, available, scalable solution for DNS hosting
While the user interface only requires two clicks, there's a whole lot going on in the background to make this happen, and the process isn't instant. HubSpot Senior Program Manager Leon Alexandrou shared how the API's above were leveraged at each stage of HubSpot's implementation process.
Ordering SSL (about one hour): After selecting from a pool a pool of 16 available SAN (Subject Alternative Name) certifications, SPS API submits a mod SAN to submit alt names, or creates a new SAN certification if necessary. If the SAN certification is new, DNS - Zone Management API adds an associate secure wildcard Cnaming record in fast DNS.
Certificate and domain confirmation (usually around seven days): The longest and most complicated process takes place after Akamai internally hands the certification off to GeoTrust (the digital certificate provider). SPS API is used to monitor the certification status process throughout as the updated and signed certificate returns to Akamai and is deployed in the production secure network.
Configuration State (one to two hours): If it's a brand new certification provisioning then PAPI API clones a secure configuration with an already created property configuration and then sets it up for first use. Then PAPI API adds a new certified domain name with associated secure edge hostname into the hostnames list and activates that.
Enablement (about one hour): If the domain name was enabled for HTTPS only, PAPI API adds the domain name into secure property configuration rule for HTTPS redirection.
The upshot? A happy user interface and a secure customer who can reap the business benefits of simple provisioning, increased security, and higher Google rankings.
If you haven't heard of Exceda, they are a Latin American provider of application acceleration services and content delivery via the Internet. To do this, they employ Akamai's Intelligent Platform, and use Akamai API's to support three important initiatives, XCDN, customer support, and their partner program. In addition to the aforementioned PAPI API, Exceda also used:
Content Control Utility (CCU)/Purge API: Technology that purges Edge content by request
Media Streaming API: Set of REST API's for the Akamai HD Network including Utility, Domain, Stream and Archive Management
XCDN is a self-service, pay as you go CDN for small to medium sized businesses (SMB), a space not covered by most CDN's. Debuted by Exceda two years ago, it allows customers to swipe their card, sign up, and configure an origin on the Akamai platform in five minutes. Essentially, it's a simplified site delivery using Akamai on the back end that now has over 300 customers on the platform. Exceda started off using legacy Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), but was unable to get property metadata back to Akamai in a programmatic manner. In response they resorted to screen scraping, or as Director of Engineering Terry Drozdowski called it, "something evil." Screen scraping is fragile, and requires manual response for members of the support team. These requests can add up quickly and overwhelm the small team, resulting in backlog. When backlog occurs, customers won't see the full business benefits for a CDN and leave the service, which can be devastating for a small company with limited resources operating a pay as you go system. As a result of screen scraping deficiencies, Exceda was seeing much higher customer abandonment rates than they would have liked.
The PAPI API helps plug these holes by automating responses, making the platform much simpler in terms of what's manually required on the back end. making the platform much simpler in terms of what's required at the back end. Soon, the entire platform will be automated top to bottom on PAPI, from which Exceda expects to see significantly reduced abandonment rates and revenue increase. With the confidence their solution is scalable (unlike screen scraping), they can also increase marketing efforts to increase customer uptake. This helps satisfy customers while saving money and allowing them to maintain a lean three-member team.
Customer Support: Exceda touts its customer support as "white gloved," meaning they go above and beyond keeping customers happy. This can involve tedious work, so the team in Brazil is building tools and using API's to handle the simple issues so their support teams can focus on larger challenges. They use the Content Control Utility (CCU) or Purge API and Media Streaming API to automate the more mundane tasks, like deleting files out of NetStorage one-by-one, freeing up support to deal with issues that matter most.
Partner Program: Their in-development partner program is a platform that enables customers to integrate with Exceda's offerings (including Akamai). Though they are just starting to amass partners, integration efforts have already proven to be very complex. Automating processes can help save money on the platform and allow partners to get their customers up in rapid fashion. By using PAPI API and Purge API, Exceda has reduced headcount required to manage integrations and reduced the time to get customers on the platform - it now only takes 20-40 minutes from sign up to when their properties are live.
These API's are critical for Exceda's businesses. They reduce operation expenses (limiting headcount), enable businesses opportunities and revenue, help provide high quality support, and allow them to integrate with their partners.
So, how can you leverage Akamai API's to achieve your business goals? Learn more about OPEN API's here, or watch the full Akamai Edge Conference presentation: Simplifying App Development through Self-Service & Automation with Akamai API's, below.